Who should be No. 1 in Nation: Duncanville or St. Mary’s?

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Photo by AMANDA

Senior Cierra Johnson fights for the rebound against Flower Mound's Lauren Cox. (Kyhia Jackson photo)

The most common buzz both locally and nationally has to be which of the two teams that occupy the first two slots in the Maxpreps, USA Today and ESPN high school girls basketball polls should be crowned the National Champion this year.  The most important piece of information had to be the  upset loss for St. Mary’s of Stockton High School (California), the no. 1 ranked team according to ESPNW High School rankings by a lower ranked team in Pinewood High School (California) in the Northern California Open Division semifinal. This should have made a clear statement to the powers to be that make the decisions about what girls basketball program should be the National Champions.

While St. Mary’s remained at the top of most every poll all year, the Pantherettes were busy taking care of business since early on in the season destroying several top ranked teams. The Pantherettes while remaining undefeated at 39-0  have beaten No. 18 Dekaney in the 6A state title game by more than 30 points and No. 24 Blackman in the Sandra Meadows Classic in December by more than a 20 point margin . They also have won big-time challenges against Flower Mound in the 6A area finals, featuring No. 1 prospect Lauren Cox. In their district alone they put away Cedar Hill twice by double digits and that team boast having the No. 2 prospect in the country in Joyner Holmes. Both of these players by the way made the McDonald All-American Team. 

St. Mary’s or Duncanville? So who would win this dream match-up if they actually played?  I would have to say Duncanville edges this glorious matchup with close score. I must give St.Mary’s credit for being a talented team with Aquira DeCosta, the No. 1 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Terrific 25, Nebraska signee Mi’Cole Cayton and Oregon State signee Kat Tudor.  But with all due respect one must consider  the “Twin Towers of Texas,” 6’4″ McDonald’s All-American Ciera Johnson, a Louisville signee and one of the best centers in the country in  6′ forward Madison Townley who is headed to North Texas and is a versatile defender and offensive weapon.  St. Mary’s would have a lot of trouble on the boards and in the open floor with this Duncanville team who has survived the best in Texas on the offensive and defensive side of things. But wait there’s more from the Pantherettes. Sophomore Zarielle Green, the No. 14 prospect in the 2018 class along with fellow sophomore Aniya Thomas and junior Nina Alvarez have also  been highlighted to be a dominating guard trio as they play scrappy defense, shoot both inside and outside the paint very well  and seem to find their way to cup every time. These three alone would cause a host of issues for  St. Mary’s dominating DeCosta.

Both of these teams have elite coaches in Cathy Self-Morgan of Duncanville and Tom Gonsalves of St. Mary’s. Gonsalves has won seven state titles and was the Naismith National Coach of the year in 2015. Cathy Self-Morgan, well enough said. She has won state titles with two different teams including Austin Westlake where she won three titles and Duncanville where she now has four banners hanging signifying titles. Not to mention her National Title banners  that hang in Sandra Meadows Arena. She has amassed more than 1,000 wins in her coaching career and no doubt belongs in the Texas High School Coaches Hall of Fame where she will be inducted in May. 

With the first loss for St.Mary’s in a playoff game, it is not hard to see what kind of team they are in the postseason as they could not even hold off a 24-5 team in Pinewood who ironically has no star power but does have a few great three point shooters like the Pantherettes.  The Pantherettes however are  a team who has only been down a couple of points for only mere seconds against Cox and Flower Mound, while Johnson and Townley gave her all she could handle dominating the defensive boards. The two Duncanville studs also forced Cox into foul trouble going to four with seconds left in the game. The Pantherettes also dominated Plano West and McDonald All-American  Natalie Chou in both regular season and for a chance to move on to the State Tournament defeating them by 15 in the finals. Chou is also ranked at the No. 8 player in the country in the espnW HoopGurlz Terrific 25.  The Pantherettes closest margin of victory in a playoff game was nine points this season. After that win, the Pantherettes beat the rest of the teams in the playoff tournament by an average. margin of 26 points.

The Pantherettes have proven everything they need to for the espnW Power 25 rankings committee to pick them a National Champion. They have high quality wins. They’re the only undefeated team in the Top 5 Rankings with a state title.  They are loaded with talent from top to bottom and even on the bench.  This team simply just has the complete mixture of great offensive and defensive weapons on their roster. The Pantherettes just simply have that IT factor and should be crowned as the best high school girls basketball team in the country for the 2016 season.